As the sun dips below Jones Creek Cafe’s wood-slatted roof, the scent of frying catfish and hush puppies wafts across the patio, momentarily distracting guests from the evening’s live music. Inside, the glow of a half-dozen TVs illuminates wood-paneled walls laden with New Orleans Saints memorabilia. Though the lively atmosphere is akin to a sports bar, Jones Creek Cafe strives to surpass traditional bar fare: Chefs stuff potatoes with shrimp and crab and drizzle grilled fish with white-wine sauce. Additionally, at the oyster bar, servers dole out fresh Louisiana oysters and tiny statues of Venus on the half shell.
A menagerie of tiger portraits and figurines stand guard over TigerBait Grill's dining room to welcome LSU faithful as they enjoy a spread of southern comfort cuisine and Mediterranean dishes. In addition to philly cheesesteaks and burgers, the menu features classic fried-oyster and catfish po' boys as well as an international version of the southern sandwich stuffed with gyro meat and toasted over an Olympic torch. Cooks skewer shrimp, chicken, and kefta meat onto kabobs and load plates with other Greek and Lebanese dishes, such as chicken shawarma. TigerBait Grill can dish out meals in the cat-covered dining room and at outdoor tables or wrap up entrees for carry-out orders.
Locally owned and operated for 25 years, Pocorello’s is a treasure trove of deli delights and classic Italian fare. Request that its seasoned chefs put together Pocorello’s No. 1 seller, a meatball po' boy served with homemade tomato sauce and vermicelli pasta ($7.25). Or, order a muffaletta; a Best of Baton Rouge reviewer says Pocorello's are the best in town. Complete your meal with Angelo Brocato’s gelato ($2) or Italian ices ($3), which are in flavors such as pistachio, spumoni, and eternity. If you'd rather stock up on edibles and assemble feasts at home, peruse Pocorello’s overflowing shelves of Italian groceries. Homemade tomato sauce ($5.25/quart), Italian sausage ($3.99/lb), and marinated mushrooms ($9.95/lb.) are just a few of the delectable edibles available.
The family that founded China Garden did so with a passion for sharing Chinese home cooking with the community, and to that end they present an all-encompassing scope of Cantonese, Szechwan, Peking, and Hunan cuisines. With that wide spectrum of dishes on hand, the menu bulges with an expansive selection, tempting guests with simple, elegant choices such as roast pork lo mein, egg drop soup, and general tso's chicken glazed in a signature sauce with hot pepper. The chefs add a touch of showmanship to the newly renovated dining room by grilling up Mongolian barbecue dishes right before diners' two eyes, unlike the cooks at fast-food restaurants, who do everything behind a giant scoreboard often called a "menu." For convenience, the staff makes the buffet available during lunch and dinner for sit-down dining or carryout.
Rough wood walls and exposed brick-and mortar accents frame wood-topped tables at Sante Fe Cattle Company, lending it the look of an Old West ranch or corner saloon. Behind walls covered with western movie posters and cowboy portraits, the kitchen staff cuts steaks by hand, commands yeast rolls to rise, and builds sauces from scratch instead of melting them from freeze-dried blocks. The kitchen follows precise family recipes to grace tabletops with a menu of southern-style favorites, such as hickory-smoked ribs, chicken-fried steak, and fried catfish fillets. Live music fills the room on certain nights, and mist fans on the outdoor patio cool people off after a long day on the range or singing about spending the days on one.
Amid Taiko Japanese Restaurant’s elegantly understated, white-walled dining room, families watch masterful chefs cook on hibachi grills and servers pour out sips of sake and deliver sushi and other Japanese cuisine to tables. Wade into the menu and spear gyoza ($4.95) or age tofu ($4.50) before netting bigger prey, such as fried, raw, cooked, or naruto sushi rolls. Tuna, salmon, striped bass, fluke, avocado, and tobiko roll together in the rainbow naruto roll ($11.95), and shrimp, lettuce, cucumber, and mayo wrap themselves in sticky rice and become a boston roll ($4.50). Traditional Japanese dishes—such as chicken teriyaki ($11.95)—line up alongside more modern tastes—such as hibachi filet mignon ($22.95)—amid the restaurant’s selection of noncoastal entrees.